Friday, February 28, 2014

something borrowed

Meet Blanca.

She is my favorite something borrowed.
She belongs to our friends who live across the street.
Whenever they go out for the day/night/weekend, they let us know so we can keep Blanca company I get my cat fix and therefore will not break into their apartment in the middle of the night and steal their precious feline.
Not to brag or anything but Blanca is obsessed with me! 

For some reason, every time I visit Blanca she throws herself on my lap and rubs herself
It's adorable and bizarre and my friends are convinced I rub myself with catnip before I head over [I promise that is not the case].
Her fondness of me makes me ridiculously happy and Sean a little jealous, so much so he brought leftover chicken to her tonight to try and win her over.
It didn't work, which secretly made me a little happy because I'm a jealous cat person too.

What about you? Do your friends have a pet you are secretly planning to pet-nap? 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

up on the roof

I have never been a roof person. I have always been a backyard person. I have had to become a roof person because, well, I do not have a backyard. Here, everyone lives in these huge cement buildings crammed one after another in sprawling urban neighborhoods.

Backyards do not exist in Taiwan, and it's important to have space and a place to go to, so naturally the only place we had to go was up rather than out back.
As you can see, the roof is really nothing special. It's dilapidated, and the tiles wibble wobble under your feet. Everything is rusted, and there are cables and interesting knobs to turn and buttons to push, although Sean constantly expresses to me the importance of not touching things so I don't accidentally cut off our neighbor's [or our own] water supply.

Mostly we come up here to:
a. watch the fireworks, which never ever stop, even at three a.m. on Tuesday mornings
b. hang the laundry
c. star gaze and marvel at shooting stars
d. talk
Usually, we sit in between these two thingy-ma-jiggies and talk big. We talk about the places we will visit [our Bali trip was born on this rooftop]. We talk about the kids we want to have. We talk about the places we will maybe move to one day. We talk about home and the people and places we miss. We talk about our past and laugh and reminisce.
We talk about the harder things too like how frustrating it can be to have a one-income household while trying to pay for a bachelor degree out of pocket while simultaneously paying off a master's degree and at the same time dreaming and scheming ways to continue to travel the world.

Sometimes, we also dance to the music of honking horns, passing scooters, and airplanes.

Sometimes, Sean smokes a cigar, and I sip on wine

And sometimes this is the place I escape to when what I really crave is my old backyard.
Have you ever checked out your roof? What was there?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

how to make the most of the weekend

Does this sound familiar: it's Friday afternoon and the start of the weekend and you get home, put on your pajamas and stay that way until Monday morning because you are so exhausted from the work week?

Been there, done that.

But I want more.

So lately I have been trying to be more intentional with my weekends so I don't roll out of bed on Monday wondering where the weekend went. I want to make the most of my free time and take advantage of the fact that I live in a foreign country, have great friends and fun hobbies and am ridiculously in love with my husband.

Some things that have turned out to be much more fulfilling than lounging around all weekend in my pajamas are:

Getting outside
Go for a walk. Sit on your roof. Drive to the beach. Jog around a lake. Lounge on your porch. Just get outside! It's amazing how getting out of your apartment gives you more energy and motivation!

Find a new locale to explore. Visit an old haunt. Get lost and found.
We go on a lot of weekend scoot adventures. Usually we stop by 7-11, grab a drink and then head down roads we have never ventured down before. Sometimes we find nothing. Other times we find treasures. It's all an adventure. And I have to admit that there is something really sexy + exciting about crawling on the back of a scooter with my husband [okay, okay... a motorcycle would probably be hotter].

I write a lot
I go outside and take lots of pictures
I scrapbook
I bake
I read
Do what you love to do!

Connecting with people
Grab your friends and go out to eat. Head to a bar. Go shopping. Talk. Have a bonfire. Play games. Skype. Connect. This weekend I toasted marshmallows around a [illegal, I'm pretty sure] pit fire, scooted into the mountains with a friend, sat around a mall and ate potato chips + drank a beloved Dr. Pepper while chatting and Skyped with people I love from back home.

Dating my husband
Sometimes we go out to eat at nice restaurants, sometimes we go to the movies, sometimes we get a hotel in Taipei, sometimes we stroll the night market, sometimes we have a stay-in date with take away and games. We have so much fun and love the time we get to spend with each other over the weekends. I actually miss him when I have to go to work on Monday mornings, that's how much fun we have together!

Pretending I'm unemployed
My students know I will ignore them on Saturdays + Sundays because I do not check my work email from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. I do not get paid enough to work on the weekends and I do not want to live to work! I spend from 7:40 am to 4:10 pm at work Monday through Friday and my job does not get to take anymore of my life than it already does.

In just the last two weekends alone, we've had the opportunity to make a dream come true and enjoy a beautiful morning flower market and wander around a statue graveyard. Even better? On this weekend's list: more scoot (mis)adventure with the husband in northern Taiwan's hillsides and day trippin to Taipei to visit a cat cafe for the very first time!

What about you? How do you like to make the most of your weekends?? 

Friday, February 21, 2014

to the market

It has finally stopped raining!

February in northern Taiwan often means long stretches of nasty weather: punishing rain, strong winds and a chill that settles all the way into your bones.

To celebrate the arrival of sunshine + warmth, even if only for the day, we rolled out of bed early, grabbed breakfast at a little coffee joint and then scooted off to the Hsinchu Flower Market.

The market is quintessentially Taiwanese.

Stinky tofu: Check.
Live music: Check.
Arcades: Check.
Fire works: Check.
Huge crowds: Check.

But most importantly, the stand owners are so.nice and so.friendly that it borders on ridiculous. They offer us huge discounts from the marked prices every time we go (and that is often because Sean secretly loves being a plant daddy) and are genuinely happy to play charades with us to educate us on how to care for our newly acquired plants.

This makes the flower market one of our regular weekend haunts, especially on a rare sunny Saturday!

What about you? Do you have a favorite weekend spot? 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

consulting the guidebook

The other day, my friend told me to look at the Lonely Planet Taiwan entry on Hsinchu. I was floored that there even was an entry on Hsinchu. I mean, I enjoy living in Hsinchu but I would never recommend tourists to come here.

What would they do?

I glanced at the four paragraphs dedicated to Hsinchu and realized there was only one tourist attraction mentioned: the Pu Tian Temple Complex. I wondered what on earth this complex was as I was sure I had never even heard of it let alone visited it in the two years that I have lived here. Imagine my surprise when two paragraphs in, I realized that I knew exactly where the attraction was and that I had been there three times myself. We went on a sunny December day and we even took my mom there when she came to visit the first time!

We just had no.idea what the place was supposed to be because it is so... weird.

As it turns out, it is a private collection of goodies that is open to the public. That is why there is no cohesive theme to the stuff collected there; the owner simply grabbed anything (including the statue of liberty + the thinking man) and everything (including terracotta warriors + dinosaurs) that he/she wanted.

And it is exactly its bizarre nature that makes it to see again + again and it is precisely for that reason that when we saw the sun was shining this morning, we grabbed our new Canon camera and scooted off into the mountains to be a tourist in our own city.